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The Work is Far From Over

April 28, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Oral history, Social history

The end of the semester has finally arrived and our final project on Audrey Grevious has been posted (http://www.kywcrh.org/projects/kchr-hall-of-fame/grevious). Without question, I thought rather pessimistically about our contributions to this project for most of the semester. Consistently, I thought in terms of quantity rather than quality in consideration of how much (or rather how little) information we were able to gather about Grevious. While our investigations and connections seemed less than successful at times, I have come to realize that our work has indeed been significant. I have learned SO much about Audrey Grevious and the movement in its entirety throughout this process and also hope that I have helped illuminate her life for others conducting similar research.

After utilizing the internet, texts, and most importantly, oral history interviews, I have observed the transformation of history and its record in just a period of 50 short years. The work my class has done this semester has been incredible – listening to the experiences of brave women, reading and analyzing literature about their lives, and even meeting them personally to record new history. I have never been more impressed with the success of a class.

Something I found very interesting from one of Audrey Grevious’ interviews that I studied closely was the following quote:

“And I feel like the generation now have lost out on that sort of thing. There’s not that closeness. There’s not that interweaving of cultures, of friendships, of anything.”

While this may be true from her perspective, from what I’ve gathered through all our research, today’s generation is better connected and more intertwined than ever. In examining the stories and backgrounds of students in our class alone, the sensitivity of our generation is ever increasing thus constantly embracing cultural difference and promoting friendships every day.

Meeting Suzy Post

April 22, 2013 in Oral history, Primary source, Social history

Picture of Suzy Post

Suzy Post

For the project that I am doing for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, my partner and I wanted to do an oral history interview with Suzy Post, who are project is focused on. After contacting her, we set up a time to interview and began anticipating what to expect for the interview. However, my partner and I got much more than just an oral history interview. We ended up hanging out with Ms. Post and truly seeing how passionate she was about the issues that she is known so well for fighting for.

When we went to interview Ms. Post, she told us that she had several things to do and asked if we would like to come along with her. We agreed and were able to experience many things that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. We first went to a memorial service for Ruth Booker Bryant, a woman who worked with Ms. Post during the Civil Rights Movement. While at the service, we were able to meet many other people who worked during the Civil Rights Movement, see their enthusiasm towards the project that we are doing and the influence that the Movement had on so many people. It was amazing to be able to see how alive the movement still is and how involved so many people are in it.

After the service, Ms. Post, my partner, and I all went out to dinner. Here we were able to talk to Ms. Post outside of the context of an oral history interview. We were able to see her views on current and past issues, how she was still involved in working to end these issues, her advice to younger activists, and able to simply just get to know her. It was incredible to see her point of view and how passionate she is about everything that she has and is fighting for. Finally we returned to her home and she showed us some newspaper clippings, letters, pamphlets, and brochures that she wrote or was mentioned in. It was extraordinary how involved she was in the community and how many people she was able to affect by her actions.

It was absolutely fantastic being able to get to know such an incredible woman, who has done so much for the community of Louisville and for all of the movements that she was involved in. She is a remarkable person who has so much to offer. I can definitely say that I learned far more than what I ever bargained for and wouldn’t change that experience for anything. Suzy Post is a truly outstanding woman who I had the honor of spending an entire day with.

**********************************

“Civil Rights Movement.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Hall of Fame 2007.” Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights –. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights – Home.” Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights – Home. N.p., n.d.          Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Notable Kentucky African Americans Database.” Notable Kentucky African Americans. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Suzy Post.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Feb. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

Project Collins

April 22, 2013 in Historiography

Martha Layne Collins

As of right now, as a group we have made a lot of head way but have encountered some road blocks where they were least expected. After getting help from Miss Puckett about some new leads, we found that in most cases they were either disconnect or not the quality of source that we were expecting. However, we have quite a bit to go on as of now as we near the completeionof the project, namely some old classmates of Collins’ that we still have yet to contact. We are meeting this week before class to try and consolidate our research so that way we can put the information into the webpage as quickly as possible. We’re still in the gathering information stage however, so asthetically, the webpage may not be very pretty, but we still hope to fill it with as much information as possible on Collins from before she was governor. Hopefully once we get a good look at her nomination for the Hall of Fame, we’ll have a better idea of what she contributed to in the context of Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era. Until then we just have to continue to meet and bring our ideas into one cohesive unit.

Inspiration from Audrey

April 16, 2013 in Social history

This semester, I have been working on a Hall of Fame project on Audrey Grevious with granestella. I have learned so much about this local activist and have come to greatly admire her past work while researching about her life and accomplishments. Indeed, it surprises me that she has not received much recognition for the many trials she experienced during the civil rights movement in Kentucky, but I hope that through this project, Audrey Grevious can receive a little bit of recompense for the work she has done in the Lexington community.

While there are many articles looking back at her previous achievements, we have found virtually no articles published about Grevious from before the 1980s. There are also very little pictures of her except for the two from The HistoryMakers and KET Living the Story. There seems to be many roadblocks to finding more about Audrey Grevious. I feel as if her story is one that must be told to all African American women aspiring to make a change in their communities. She truly took steps to make changes to things she saw as wrong and stayed true to what she believed in. This is well exemplified in the time when Grevious decided to desegregate the lunchroom of the Kentucky Village. She simply went into the lunchroom reserved for the white staff members and sat down!

Grevious was very much involved in the local efforts to fight segregation, whether it was in participating in sit-ins or as the president of the Lexington chapter of the NAACP. She shows us that just one person can make a difference through their actions and character. In fact, we can all use a trailblazer like Audrey to look up to and celebrate in her achievements that will bring inspiration to our own quests in making a difference in the world.

Sources

“KET | Living the Story | The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.” Glossary, Audrey Grevious.          http://www.ket.org/cgi-bin/cheetah/watch_video.pl?nola=kcivs+000112&altdir=&template=

“National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Jan. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAACP_in_Kentucky

“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Jan. 2013.              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Grevious

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

A Day in the Capitol

April 11, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Political history, Social history

Kentucky Capitol Building

Without a doubt, our class trip to the state capitol in Frankfort on Tuesday was a valuable experience. Not only did my class have the opportunity to explore an important location in our state history, we were able to witness a revolutionary proclamation that continues to have immense worth in our society. First, our group had the opportunity to meet with Eleanor Jordan of the Kentucky Commission on Women. Ms. Jordan shared with us the Kentucky Women Remembered exhibit of notable Kentucky women that hang in the halls of the capitol building. Jordan was quick to address the fact that visitors to the capitol can see the beautiful dolls of the First Ladies upon entering their wing of the building, yet women have made much more valuable contributions within our state than have been previously recognized. Although the portraits are a small token of appreciation to glorify these women’s hard work, the gallery is a unique and crucial development in this male dominated space. Her future plans include the erection of a female sculpture in the building to further illuminate the work of women in our state.

John J. Johnson

Following our meeting with Eleanor Jordan, our group attended the Fair Housing Proclamation in the capitol rotunda. The speakers included John Johnson of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and numerous others who support has brought this legislation to the forefront and given rights to many deserving individuals. The most moving part of the proclamation, for me, was Colmon Eldridge‘s speech at the program’s conclusion. Eldridge, representing the office of the governor, came to announce the proclamation but shared a very moving story about his motivation to work for continued legislation such as this. He shared stories about his grandma and his personal home ownership story and why this proclamation has such a personal meaning to him for an African American male. He also noted that the audience was a blend of all shades of color thus emphasizing the fact that this isn’t just an issue of African American civil rights, but rather, an issue every citizen of Kentucky and the nation at large should take note of.

Our trip ended following the proclamation and we shared a wonderful lunch at the Grey Goose in historic Midway, Kentucky. Though it was a relaxed atmosphere, it was extremely important for us to bond together and reflect on our experiences of the day as we had just seen real legislation that has come from the time period in which we are continuously studying. As we continue to research each of our respective accomplished women, we must go forth with an understanding that their with civil rights is far from complete and we too much be agents of change in our communities to continue their legacies.

Fair Housing Proclamation Trip

April 11, 2013 in Economic history, Primary source, Social history

John Johnson speaking about the fair housing proclamation

John Johnson speaking about the fair housing proclamation; photo from @rhollingsworth twitter feed

Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure about what to expect in our trip to Frankfort, but I think overall it was an enjoyable trip and a great way to see what we are studying come to life within the rotunda of the capital.

When we first talked to the Commissioner of Kentucky Women, we got a really good glimpse of what the struggle was in Kentucky for powerful women in Kentucky and how it was not uncommon for these amazing women to be overlooked simply because they were women.

dolls of first ladies of Kentucky

First Ladies In Miniature

The exhibit of the portraits of the women and even with the dolls of the women are wonderful tribute to their impact, but even the commissioner called for more; more portraits, statues, and recognition.

The proclamation of the 45th anniversary of the fair housing act was also a powerful thing to witness because we were able to see the level of pride that both blacks and whites who have grown up in the fair housing association in Kentucky had for the progress that has been made here in Kentucky. It was also amazing to hear the references of the powerful women that influenced the movement, like Georgia Davis Powers and Mae Street Kidd, completely unprompted. It really made history come alive for me. It also increased my awareness of the impact that woman made in the lives of future generations. Although we saw that these women were constantly under-appreciated, their impact on Kentucky today is entirely clear.

Finding Audrey

March 26, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Social history

When you mention the name “Audrey Grevious”, it will most certainly ring a bell among activists and Lexington civil rights advocates alike. While it is a taxing struggle to find many pictures of Grevious, there is much information on her efforts in local schools and protests during her younger years.

Grevious was quite active in Lexington, participating in various protests and sit-ins, while being involved with the local NAACP and CORE chapters. She eventually became the president of the Lexington NAACP and worked as a teacher before becoming the principal at the Kentucky Village Reformatory School (now called the Blackburn Correctional Complex) and Maxwell Elementary School. Grevious’s time at the Kentucky Village allowed her to bring about desegregation in the lunch rooms, a landmark moment that nearly echoes a sit-in at a local restaurant in which Grevious continued to persevere while the owner repeatedly swung a chain at her leg.

Indeed, Grevious was one of the pivotal leaders during the civil rights era in Lexington, KY, but it is difficult to find pictures from her active years. Grevious is still alive, but much weaker and ill, making it more challenging to get in touch with her. In attempting to find more information, granestrella and I are looking at the transcripts for a couple oral histories. I am also working on getting in contact with Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, and possibly Dunbar High School (though the existing one is not exactly the same as the one previously attended by Grevious). If we succeed in our quest, we may be able to bring more insight into the life of a dynamic woman underrepresented in the playing field of civil rights.

Sources

“KET | Living the Story | The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.” Glossary, Audrey Grevious. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

“National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Jan. 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Jan. 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

Women’s Influence in Post-WWII Civil Rights Movement

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, Oral history, Political history, Social history

“Women polish the silver and water the plants and wait to be really needed.”

~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

While this quote seems a little extreme, I think it is fitting for the discussion of women as a part of the Civil Rights Movement following World War II. During this time period, women stepped up as leaders in their communities – they became the heads of NAACP chapters in their towns, they spearheaded protests such as sit-ins, and were great advocates for educational reform. Women who had previously been counted on solely in their own homes were now of great use to the general community.

Anne Braden

Women such as Anne Braden, an active Civil Rights Leader for many years throughout Kentucky, were critical to the many developments in racial relations that occurred throughout the United States following World War II.

Another such woman was Mae Street Kidd, who stepped up as a legislator, leader, and role model for women everywhere. Helen Fisher Frye‘s story of influence was included in Chapter 3 of Freedom on the Border.  Her oral history details her influence as the President of the NAACP in Danville, Kentucky.

Another area in which women demonstrated their abilities following World War II was in organizing protests. The 1964 March on Frankfort was attended by many notable Kentucky women, including two who give Oral History accounts detailed on page 112-113 of Freedom on the Border.

In addition, many student led organizations were spearheaded by women following World War II. Several of the Oral Histories in chapter 3 of Freedom on the Border are accounts by female students, such as Helen Fisher Frye and Anna Beason speak on their influence and participation in protests and organizations for Civil Rights.

All in all, the Civil Rights movement was greatly affected by a great number of women in a variety of ways. They led campaigns, held offices, led NAACP chapters and other local organizations, organized protests, influenced students, participated in national marches, and changed the face of the Civil Rights movement. Without the influence and determination of women such as these, the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it was, and our nation would not be where it is today.

“Women really do rule the world.  They just haven’t figured it out yet.  When they do, and they will, we’re all in big big trouble.”  ~Unknown

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Braden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd

http://books.google.com/books?id=kBN_GwAACAAJ&dq=Mignon+McLaughlin&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OgU2UZPJNqfh0QGvuYD4DQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA

http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=764

http://books.google.com/books/about/Freedom_on_the_Border.html?id=bnj0JHhoZ4oC

http://media.concreteloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/braden1.gif

http://owl.library.louisville.edu/2005/Owl0205.pdf

http://www.quoteidea.com/authors/doctor-leon-of-drleonscom-quotes

“Quiet” Determination

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Political history, Social history

In the years after World War II, protests began to invade society with calls for change among the African-American community. Peaceful demonstrations were common after being inspired by Gandhi’s pacifism in India. Sit-ins by young people became widespread among members of the NAACP and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), in hopes of stirring change in the hearts of Kentucky legislators.

Most of the prominent activity of the 1940s and 50s were in the larger cities of Lexington and Louisville. Often times, demonstrations would be in front of or inside stores or restaurants refusing to cater to African-Americans. One such demonstration involved Audrey Grevious, a former president of the NAACP and member of the Lexington chapter of CORE. She and a group of NAACP and CORE members decided to have a sit-in at a restaurant. They had been sitting at the lunch counter for some days, when one day, the manager decided to chain off the area. While sitting on a stool, he swung the chain at Grevious’s leg. To keep herself from trying to “wring his neck”, Grevious began to sing, not realizing how much damage the man would be doing to her leg in years to come.

CORE members in protest

CORE members in protest

Youth and others working in menial jobs performed a lot of the protests. In fact, young people comprised most of the members in the NAACP and CORE. According to Mary Jones of Lexington, if “it had not been for the children, young people in this town, CORE would not have survived.” Often times, women workers would recruit their students to join them in protests. Helen Fisher Frye—who was president of the Danville NAACP and worked with youth at her church—would meet her students after school to have sit-ins at the local drugstores.

Interestingly, smaller towns outside of city life handled segregation a little differently. In an account by Anna Beason, she describes how she and her friends had engaged in a sit-in unknowingly. They had gone in to a drugstore for sodas and were waiting for a long time, until the waitress finally served them. It was as if these smaller towns did not know how to handle segregation. Another instance was when George Esters and a group of his friends went to the white teen center to dance in Bowling Green. The next year, a teen center was built for African-American teens.

Out of all the women in this chapter of Freedom on the Border, Helen Fisher Frye seemed to be the most striking. Living in Danville, race relations were not severe, but she had a few white friends through church. Because of her Christian philosophy, Frye felt it important to have a place in politics, specifically through organizations such as the NAACP. In fact, Frye re-organized the Danville chapter of the NAACP and even worked to integrate public housing. Like Mae Street Kidd, she was a fearless woman who was not afraid to voice her opinions. Kidd would demand what she wanted and stand firm in her beliefs, as seen in the time when she was working for the Red Cross and did not want to travel to a humid location. In the same way, Frye threatened to drive away when the gas attendant left her to attend to a white customer. Through the leadership of these two women, much was accomplished for the advancement of African-Americans by making known their societal inequalities.

Sources

“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.17 Feb. 2013. Web. 04. Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Grevious

“Congress of Racial Equality.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 27. Feb. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congress_of_Racial_Equality

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

Jones, Reinette. “Helen Fisher Frye.” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. University of Kentucky Libraries. 4 Mar. 2013. Web. https://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=764

Kidd, Mae Street, and Wade H. Hall. Passing for Black: The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1997. Print.

“Mae Street Kidd.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd

“Mohandas Ghandi.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 2 Mar. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi

“NAACP in Kentucky” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 2 Feb. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAACP_in_Kentucky

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